Leading thinkers gather at York University to discuss countdown to Canadian climate action

a dry arid landscape due to global warming

To understand how climate change already impacts human health in Canada and around the world, leading scientific and civil society organizations will gather at York University on Nov. 29. The day-long event will focus on findings contained in the Lancet Countdown: Tracking Progress on Health and Climate Change, a Lancet-led yearly review of the world’s response to climate change and how it affects human health globally.

Dr. James Orbinski

“Climate change is the main issue right now in global health, with already massive humanitarian impact globally,” says Dr. James Orbinski, former international president of Doctors Without Borders and the inaugural director of the Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research at York University.

“We know what needs to be done to adapt to the health impact of climate change and to stop it from getting worse by radically reducing greenhouse gas emissions. What we need to figure out is how to work together to get this done,” he says.

The Lancet Countdown is the result of international, interdisciplinary collaboration. The report focuses on what can be done now and how the world is moving – slowly – in the right direction.

Despite the report’s findings, Canada is among the worst climate change offenders, according to a new study published in Nature Communications. Along with Russia and China, this country’s current climate change policies are estimated to contribute to global temperature rise of more than five degrees Celsius by the end of the century. Scientists estimate that if global temperatures rise over 1.5 degrees Celsius, there will be irreversible damages to human and planetary well-being.

Orbinski notes that traditional boundaries between disciplines, between researchers and practitioners, and between political perspectives are common challenges to effective climate action.

With Dr. Courtney Howard, a Canadian physician associated with the Lancet Countdown, Orbinski will welcome representatives from across disciplines and sectors to track Canada’s progress on health and climate change. The 2018 Canada-specific Lancet Countdown Report will also be launched at an event on Nov. 29, which is open to all members of the York University community and beyond.

Hosted by the Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research (DIGHR), and in partnership with The Lancet, the Canadian Public Health Association and the Canadian Medical Association, the gathering will feature an impressive roster of speakers, including Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders, the David Suzuki Foundation, the Blockchain For Climate Foundation, the York University Sustainable Energy Initiative, the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, Western University’s Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, and Global Health Emergency Medicine at the University of Toronto.

Two consecutive panels of global health researchers and practitioners will explore how climate change affects mental health, the spread of infectious disease and human migration. Each will discuss extreme weather events, pollution-related mortality rates and media trends in Canada. Panellists will also speak to the technological innovations and intersectional perspectives crucial to curbing and adapting to climate change.

All are welcome to explore this window of opportunity to enhance global health through climate action.

For more information and to register for the launch of the 2018 Canada-specific Lancet Countdown Report, visit go.yorku.ca/dighr-rsvp-lancet and follow DIGHR on Twitter at @DIGHR_YorkU.